In this issue
Committee on Aging (CONA) report
By Walter Boot , PhD
The Committee on Aging provides the following updates on some recent CONA committee activities. Among other goals, CONA aims to promote the inclusion of knowledge about adult development and aging in all levels of education, including continuing education, training programs and professional development of psychologists; and develop and disseminate information concerning the scientific findings and practice issues about older adults to psychologists, other professionals, policymakers and the public.
With respect to education, CONA developed, tested with undergraduate and graduate students and disseminated the Careers in Aging Roadmaps to promote and provide step-by-step guides for undergraduate and graduate students interested in aging careers. Within just the first six months after the deployment of this website, it has been viewed more than 2,500 times. This resource is already being used by university career centers as a resource to help guide students toward careers in aging. CONA members also promoted this new resource during two sessions at the 2018 convention: (1) Skill-Building Session: Introducing a New Tool to Help Mentors Guide Students to Critical Careers in Aging and (2) APA psycCareers LIVE: Exploring Careers in Aging. In addition to these efforts to promote interest in aging careers, CONA initiated and maintained a collaboration with Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) to encourage interest among high school students in aging issues. Collaborative activities included: An Aging World essay contest for high school students; conducting follow-up interviews with four essay winners and publishing an PI-Education blog, “What High School Students Told Us About the Future of Healthy Aging;” and developing a “What is Psychology and Aging?” poster.
With respect to disseminating important information to policymakers, CONA members recently participated in in-district advocacy visits with lawmakers throughout the month of August, facilitated by APA Public Interest Government Relations Office staff. CONA committee members advocated for $2 million funding for S. 2070, Kevin and Avonte’s Law. This bill’s primary purpose is to help those individuals who wander and is of particular interest to the aging population as well as those individuals living with disabilities (most notably autism). The legislation which became law in March of this year has no current funding. The bill helps to reduce the risk of injury and death relating to wandering, adds grant program support for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, safeguards the well-being of individuals with disabilities during interactions with law enforcement and provides education and resources to law enforcement agencies, schools and clinicians.
With respect to disseminating important information to the public, CONA has created, maintained, updated, and disseminated a library of online and print educational materials for older adults, psychologists, health and aging service providers and policymakers, including: Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions, Prolonging Vitality Society’s Grand Challenges: Insights from Psychological Science, What Mental Health Practitioners Should Know about Working with Older Adults, Older Adults Health and Age-related Change: Reality versus Myth, and Life Plan for the Lifespan which are all available on the APA Office on Aging webpage. In the period between 2015 to the present, these documents were viewed 250,000 times.
These are just a few of the many efforts CONA has been working on. You can read more in our next column. Keep abreast of current Office on Aging and CONA activities by subscribing to the APA Aging Issues Newsletter and checking the Office on Aging webpage regularly.
As Chair-Elect of CONA, and the CONA liaison with Div. 20, I look forward to future collaborations and increased communication with Div. 20 and its members. Please feel free to contact me by email with your thoughts and ideas.